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Jimmy McKinn - Kidnapped By the Apache

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In 1875, all Apaches west of the Rio Grande were ordered to move from their traditional homelands to the San Carlos Reservation, a barren wasteland in east-central Arizona, described as "Hell's Forty Acres." Deprived of traditional tribal rights, short on rations, and homesick, the Apaches revolted.


Spurred by Geronimo, hundreds of Apaches left the reservation and fled to Mexico, soon resuming their war against the whites. Geronimo and his followers began ten years of intermittent raids against white settlements, alternating with periods of peaceful farming on the San Carlos reservation.


In 1882, General George Crook was recalled to Arizona to conduct a campaign against the Apaches. Geronimo surrendered in January 1884, but, spurred by rumors of impending trials and hangings, again took flight from the San Carlos Reservation on May 17, 1885, accompanied by 35 warriors, and 109 men, women and children.


San Carlos Reservation, 1874

San Carlos Reservation in 1874, photo by D.P.  Flanders

Mimbres Valley, New MexicoRaiding farms and villages as they made their way to Mexico, Geronimo and his band came upon the McKinn Ranch in the Mimbres Valley of southwest New Mexico in September. There, they found a young man tending to the cattle, while another relaxed beneath a tree. Their father, John McKinn, had left for Las Cruces that morning, while their mother, Lucetia, and sister, Mary, were in the house, some distance away. From the perch atop a nearby mountain, Geronimo and his band of Chiricahua Apache, could see that the boys were alone.

Tending cattle was 17 year-old Martin McKinn, a lazing away under the tree was his 11 year-old brother, Jimmy, who was also called Santiago.  When the Indians approached Jimmy, they asked him how many men were at his house. Trembling with fear, he answered that he didn’t know. They then questioned him about the ranch horses – whether they were broken or not, to which Jimmy responded that they were mixed. Geronimo then told Jimmy to get on a horse, and the band, along with Jimmy and several stolen horses, rode away from the ranch. When the young boy asked about his brother, he was knocked in the head with a rock by Geronimo. He asked no more questions.

Taking captives in those days was often the case, not only for the Indians, but also for the Mexicans, who regularly took captives to work as slaves. For the Apache, they took captives for warrior replacements, if a boy, and maidens, if a girl.


Meanwhile, Mrs. McKinn, had no inkling of what had happened and it would be hours before she was to "miss” her sons.


The next day, 17 year-old Martin McKinn’s body was found lying face down in the desert. The following day he was buried. When John McKinn arrived home to find one son dead and another missing, he immediately gathered a group of men and began to trail the Apaches. For eight days, McKinn relentlessly pursued them; however, when he reached Mogollon, he spoke to some people who gave him a coat and handkerchief that he knew to have been his son Martin’s. The coat had a bullet hole in it. From that moment forward, he began a downward spiral into insanity that continued until his death 12 years later.


The area got the first official word of the event when the Silver City Enterprise reported on September 15, 1885:

"Signal fires [by Apaches] were reported as being seen in Deming in the Florida Mountains. On Saturday morning a report came in that a family had been killed by the Apaches. . . and a Mexican named Evaristo Abeyta had been killed by the Apaches near San Lorenzo. . . . On Sunday night further news came from Georgetown, that three other men had been killed . . . and J. McKinn's two sons, living on a ranch on Gallianas Creek were killed; the elder being shot through the forehead and the younger in the neck. George Horn, who was chopping wood with two Mexicans in the mountains about two miles back from the mill, was killed."

Obviously, the newspaper had incorrectly reported the event at the McKinn Ranch. However, a week later, they ran another piece stating:

"The body of Mr. McKinn's youngest son, who was supposed to have been killed by Indians at the same time of his brother, has not yet been found. A track that looked as if it might have been his was found mixed with the Indian tracks and it is beginning to be hoped that the little boy may still be alive, and was carried away by the Apaches. If this proves likely to be the case every effort will be made to restore him to his father. We trust that this may prove well founded and that the boy may yet return to his home alive and well."


Relentlessly pursued by General George Crook and the U.S. Cavalry, the Apache, along with their young white captive, disappeared into Mexico. Finally, in March, 1886, Crook and his men caught up with the band at Cańon de Los Embudos in Sonora, Mexico. Geronimo's group  consisted of a handful of warriors, women, and children, one of whom was the missing Jimmy McKinn.

Traveling with Crook and his soldiers were both a photographer and a newspaper reporter. C.S. Fly, of Tombstone, Arizona fame, was able to take some of the most famous photographs in American history after Geronimo surrendered, while Fletcher Lummis, a reporter for the Los Angeles Times, recorded the events.


Jimmy "Santiago" McKinn was kidnapped by Apaches

Jimmy "Santiago" McKinn in Geronimo's Camp, with group

 of Chiricahua Apaches boys, 1886, photo by C.S. Fly

 This image available for photographic prints and

 downloads HERE!

Continued Next Page

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